The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is out today, and it's bound to be one of the biggest games of the year. Before you hop in and make a character in The Elder Scrolls 5 just like your one in Oblivion, take a minute to look over our Skyrim starter guide to familiarize yourself with the changes they've made to make sure your character/class combination will be the best possible.
Starting Your Adventure
Your first major decision in Skyrim is of course the creation of your character. In Oblivion, you could create a more balanced, super-powered character. Not so in Skyrim, so the choices you make here are important. Once you've gained free access to the world, before you just wander off into the mountains, take a few minutes to plan ahead what kind of character you want to play. With the revamped leveling system, Skyrim is a lot more structured towards building your character into a more traditional archetype. There's still room to branch out and make a balanced character, but you'll probably miss out on the higher level perks for some skills. Since the leveling slows way down past 50, take the time to plan out at least your first 10-20 levels.
The biggest thing to pay attention to are your perk points -- each level grants you one perk you can unlock. For every skill there are a number of perks, each with different skill level requirements. Take a minute or two to look through the skills, and in conjunction with your racial selection, plan out how you'll be putting your points into perks. By thinking ahead and having a plan, you'll be a more dangerous fighter, a more effective spell caster or a better sneaker.
Creating a Shadow Warrior
Making a stealthy warrior is a much simpler task in Skyrim than it was in Oblivion, thanks to the simplified system. Really, the only choice that will effect your stats is your race, after that, you're free to sneak and level your skills as you see fit. I've put together a fairly effective sneak-thief pattern for your use. Start off with the Wood Elf as your race - even though Khajiit get a larger bonus to sneak, the bonuses that the Bosmer get will be more useful in keeping you alive and helping you strike from the shadows. Focus on archery as your main method of dealing damage, using poisons you make with your boosted alchemy skill to deal even more damage. Lockpicking, Pickpocket and Sneak are all boosted at start too, so you have a leg up to help bolster your wallet. Bosmers also have disease and poison resistance built in, so you should be able to fight without having to worry as much about them. Focus on light armor for defense, maybe adding in one-handed with daggers, but only after you feel like your archery is well enough leveled.
Creating a Pure Mage
Playing a pure mage is a viable play style in Skyrim without having to worry about dying in every fight. There are three races that provide the best boosts for pure spellcasters, each with a little different way to go about it. Going as a pure mage, you really should look to the High Elf as a race. High Elves get boosts to all five schools of magic, with the large boost going to Illusion. They also have a 5 point boost to Enchanting, letting them make stronger armor, sooner. As if that wasn't enough, they have 50 more points of magic, and their racial power lets them regenerate their magic much faster. Start pouring on the magic, mixing schools if you can to level two skills at once, and enchant everything you can, even if you just plan on selling it. There really is no penalty to the armor you wear, but light armor or robes is probably your best bet, if for no other reason other than mobility. Before long, you'll be able to take most enemies out early in The Elder Scrolls 5, no problem.
Creating a Warrior
Making a straight up, damage-dealing melee warrior is a simple joy in Skyrim. With the change to one-handed and two-handed as your skills, you don't need to choose which type of weapon as much. Swords, axes and maces will all level the same skill now. So really, you need to decide - Heavy, slow two-handed weapons and armor, or lighter, faster one-handed weapons and armor. If the Tank route is more your speed, go with the Orc. They get a 10 point boost to Heavy Armor at the outset, as well as boosts to Block, One-Handed, Smithing, Enchanting and Two-Handed. You'll be absorbing a lot of damage, and able to deal a lot of damage with the magic weapons you'll make. Plus it offers you a little flexibility in weapon choice if you don't like the greatswords or battle-axes. For the more nimble, yet still hardy warrior, go with the Nord. Skyrim's own sons have a 10 point boost to two-handed, so you can still go the big damage route, but their 5 point boosts give you a really level combat field to start with - Block, Light Armor, One-Handed, Smithing and Speech. Plus Nords have a 50% Frost Resistance, which is a major plus in this game. Nords don't have any real magic boosts, so you might need to rely more on stores early game, which is where the Speech bonus is nice.
Creating your Own Skyrim Character
If the typical RPG archetypes I laid out above don't exactly sound like your ideal character, and you'd rather roll a custom class, you'll want to know the racial bonuses for each of Skyrim's ten playable races. Lucky for you, I've laid them out here for you:
- Argonian: Argonians have a 50% resistance to disease as well as the ability to breath under water. Their power is Histskin which lets them regenerate health faster. They have a 10 point boost to Lockpicking, as well as a 5 point boost to Alteration, Light Armor, Pickpocket, Restoration and Sneak.
- Breton: Bretons have a natural 25% resistance to magic as their only attribute bonus. Their power is Dragonskin, which lets them absorb some spells cast at them once a day. They have a 10 point boost to Conjuration, and 5 point boosts to Alchemy, Alteration, Restoration, Illusion and Speech.
- Dark Elf: The Dunmer have a resistance of 50% to Fire as their sole racial ability. Their power, Ancestor's Wrath, lets them wrap themselves in fire. They have a 10 point boost to Destruction and 5 point boosts to Alchemy, Illusion, Alteration, Light Armor and Sneak.
- High Elf: The Altmer have 50 extra Magicka points as their only racial ability. Their power Highborn lets them regenerate magicka faster. Their skill bonuses give them a 10 point boost to Illusion and 5 points to Conjuration, Destruction, Restoration, Alteration and Enchanting.
- Imperial: The Imperials have the Imperial Luck ability which makes more gold appear in treasure drops. Their power, Voice of the Emperor, lets them charm and calm an enemy. Their skill bonuses grant them a 10 point boost to Restoration, and 5 points to Destruction, Enchanting, Heavy Armor, Block and One-Handed.
- Khajiit: The Khajiit race's unarmed attacks take advantage of their natural claws to do more damage. Their power lets them see in the dark with the Eye of the Night power. Their stat boosts give a 10 point bonus to sneak, and 5 points to Alchemy, One-Handed, Archery, Lockpicking and Pickpocket.
- Nord: The Nords have an inherit resistance to frost of 50% as their only racial bonus. Using their Battlecry power, they can cause enemies to flee. They have a 10 point bonus to Two-Handed and 5 points to Smithing, Block, One-Handed, Light Armor and Speech.
- Orc: The Orcs have only their racial power, no abilities in Skyrim. Their power however, lets them take half damage and deal more damage. They have a 10 point boost to Heavy Armor and 5 points to Enchanting, Smithing, Block, Two-Handed and One-Handed.
- Redguard: The Redguards have a natural resistance to poison by 50%. Their power, Adrenaline Rush, lets them do more damage in combat. They have a 10 point bonus to One-Handed and 5 to Destruction, Alteration, Smithing, Block and Archery.
- Wood Elf: The Bosmer have a natural 50% resistance to poison and disease. Their power lets them command a wild animal once a day. They have a 10 point bonus to Archery, and 5 to Alchemy, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak and Light Armor.
Once you've created your character, and you have your plan for how you want to play, you can start your journey through the land of Skyrim. Unlike in Oblivion, there are clear parts not intended for low level characters, and trust me, the game will make it clear. Stay away from trolls, Falmers and Hagravens early on - they'll mess a low level character up. Personally, I recommend staying near Helgen, Riverwood and Whiterun for the first 10 levels or so, before branching out to head to Windhelm or Winterhold. Really though, the beauty of games like Skyrim is the level of freedom they give the player. I can tell you exactly what I did to get where I am in the game, but it would ruin half the fun of exploring and discovering the world of The Elder Scrolls 5 for yourself.
For a look at the characters and background of Skyrim's world, check out our guide.